Minnesota has added another 500 lakes and stretches of river to its list of impaired waters, raising the state’s total above 3,600. The 2012 list includes a total of 108 waterways in the Minnesota River basin. Impaired waters are defined as having excess pollutants, hurting their ability to support swimming or fishing, or to provide healthy habitats for fish and wildlife. Researchers say about 40% of Minnesota’s waters are impaired. The state is one-fifth of the way through surveying its nearly 12,000 lakes and nearly 70,000 miles of rivers and streams. Once waters are on the list, the state works with local governments and groups to design clean-up plans, but it’s a slow process. While about 900 clean-up plans have been approved or are being developed, they’ve resulted in only 15 water bodies coming off the list. Public informational meetings are being held around the state this month to discuss the 2012 Impaired Waters list. Southern Minnesota’s meeting will take place at the Blue Earth County Library in Mankato from 1 to 3pm on Wednesday, January 25th.